The chairman of the National Hajj Commission (NAHCON), Zikrullah Hassan, has revealed that the airlines approved for transporting pilgrims to Saudi Arabia have accepted a $250 increase in the hajj fare.
Speaking during a training exercise in Abuja, Hassan assured that the additional cost would not burden the pilgrims.
The approved airlines, namely Air Peace, Azman Air, Max Air, and Aero Contractors, made the request for the fare increase due to the crisis in Sudan, which would require a longer flight time to Saudi Arabia.
Hassan stated, “Our local airlines, after several negotiations, accepted the sum of $250 as an increase in the cost of air tickets for this year’s operation.”
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Despite the increase, Hassan emphasized that the commission was actively seeking ways to resolve the attendant consequences of the fare adjustment.
He expressed the commission’s commitment to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict in Sudan, as the airspace closure has been causing hardship and loss of lives.
“At NAHCON, we are looking for all ways to ensure that we resolve the issue of this additional cost,” he said, adding that the decision taken would not require pilgrims to pay extra funds to their respective state pilgrim boards.
Highlighting the operational plan, Hassan announced that the first airlift of pilgrims would take place on May 25, 2023.
He mentioned that an advance team comprising medical and hajj officials would be sent to Saudi Arabia on May 21. “We pray that the 2023 hajj will witness great improvement,” he added.
Previously, the four airlines had declined to sign the agreement for transporting prospective pilgrims due to the closure of Sudan’s airspace, which serves as a route for these airlines.
However, NAHCON confirmed on Wednesday that the airlines had agreed to sign the agreement, ensuring the transportation of pilgrims for the upcoming hajj season.